When you talk about the quintessential AOR album, the Long Island outfit SPYS, has AOR stamped all over it.
Written by: gdmonline
LABEL: EMI America
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
SPONSOR: Rock Candy Records
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: John Blanco – vocals * John DiGaudio – guitars, vocals * Al Greenwood – keyboards, vocals * Ed Gagliardi – bass, vocals * Billy Milne – drums, vocals
TRACK LISTING: 01 Don’t Run My Life * 02 She Can’t Wait * 03 Ice Age * 04 Danger * 05 Over Her * 06 Desiree * 07 Don’t Say Goodbye * 08 Into The Light * 09 Hold On (When You Feel You’re Falling) * 10 No Harm Done
When you talk about the musical genre ‘AOR’, many will admit that its days have long been surpassed. When you talk about the quintessential AOR album, many will talk about the likes of Journey, I-Ten, Arcangel, Preview, Aldo Nova etc. But lurking out the back is the Long Island outfit SPYS, which has AOR stamped all over it.
SPYS was borne from the marriage of three bands: Harpy (Blanco and DiGaudio), Foreigner (Gagliardi and Greenwood), and the Billy Falcon Band (Milne). The full band line-up came together in the middle of 1980 after their prior gigs ended, for one reason or another. After putting on a rushed 40 minute showcase gig for A&R reps, the band came away with a deal, signed to EMI America.
Many of the songs were written by the trio of Blanco, DiGaudio and Gagliardi, the first three members to combine for SPYS. However, it wasn’t until two years later that the album was eventually released. The result, a true AOR masterpiece, appreciated and acknowledged as such by fans of the genre. Of course, we can’t forget the immense production from the acclaimed Neil Kernon. Wunderbar!
The album has been written and raved about in many publications, but the fact remains, it did very little at the Box Office. SPYS also had to contend with the changing nature of business in the music industry. Out went big tours, in came MTV, hence the band releasing ‘She Can’t Wait’ as their token video effort.
[DiGaudio, Gagliardi, Greenwood, Milne, Blanco]
If there is one term that is synonymous with this album, it would be a ‘sense of urgency’. A ton of lyrical and musical drama, played out in a commercial environment, unlike the prog like backgrounds experienced by the band members in prior lives. Tracks like ‘Don’t Run My Life’ and ‘Over Her’ drive hard.
The keyboard splashes from Al Greenwood really sink in on tracks like ‘Ice Age’ and ‘Into The Night’, air keyboardists could get drunk on these two tunes! The track ‘Danger’ is similar in style to the material we heard on ‘Behind Enemy Lines’, while ‘Desiree’, with stabbing pianos intact has an inkling of Franke And The Knockouts in the mix. Their ballad ‘Hold On (When You Feel You’re Falling)’ is one that I have admired for many years. It remains for me, a personal highlight and one of the most memorable ballads I’ve come across.
SPYS toured throughout the eastern parts of the USA in support of the album, touring mainly with 38 Special. However EMI America weren’t that great in supporting the band, a tale of woe that would manifest by the time their second album ‘Behind Enemy Lines’ was released a year later.
Unfortunately 1983 was as far as the band would go, due to the poor label support and indifferent sales. For more reading on the entire tale of SPYS, read the 2002 interview with John Blanco (refer ‘Tags’ below). Great band, tragic ending.. so the story goes.
She Can’t Wait
Into The Night